Monday, 4 July 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Mary Ann EDGCOMBE (1836-1912)

My great great grandmother, Mary Ann Edgcombe EDGCOMBE (yes, she married her first cousin) was christened in the small village of South Milton on 19 June 1836, the same day as her sister, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth and Mary Ann might even have been twins!

Fitting her life dates into a timeline shows that she was alive during many many inventions and discoveries - but what fascinated me most (because it gave a window into what must have been a very emotional time) was the birth and early deaths of four of her children.  Her first child, James Henry, was christened on 4 February 1860, probably in the same church as Mary Ann (and his father, George).  But he is recorded as buried on 12 August of the same year.  What happened?  I have found that this often happened in rural families.  The wife goes back to her mother for the first baby's birth, but the baby only lives a few months.  Then the dead infant's name is 'handed down' to a later child of the same gender.  Thus, James Henry was born in February and buried in August, and another child is christened James Henry on 21 March 1869.  Rather a large gap?  Read on...

A year after the first James Henry's burial, Mary Ann gave birth to Bertha Ellen, who was christened in South Milton church on 3 August 1861, then Noah George was christened on 20 February 1864.  However, Noah died on 21 January 1865, and Bertha Ellen died of scarlet fever on her fourth birthday: later that same year; her mother, Mary Ann, was not even allowed to be present at the death, because she was seven months pregnant with twins.  I wonder if little Noah also died of scarlet fever?

c. 1869: Mary Ann (mother) with Lewis, baby James, and Augusta
On 21 November 1865, Augusta Ann and Lewis Albert were born - and they both lived to adulthood, got married, and had children of their own.

Another James Henry followed in 1869, then John Samuel in 1870 (my great grandfather), followed by Amelia Agnes in 1874 - who lived for less than a week.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the photograph - Mary Ann wanted to record the tiny lives entrusted to her before they were taken away....


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